NANTICOKE -- Dozens of people who live at Nanticoke Villa will spend the night in a high school gymnasium after an early morning fire.
On Tuesday afternoon, we learned the personal care home is operating under appeal because of what the state calls health and safety violations.
Officials tell us that 45 residents of Nanticoke Villa will spend the night on cots in the gym at the Greater Nanticoke Area High School.
Other residents are staying with family.
State officials tell us the personal care home was in some trouble before the fire.
Some residents of Nanticoke Villa were outside getting some fresh air in the Greater Nanticoke Area High School parking lot after a hectic morning.
"It's hard because it's just so scary. We could have all died," said resident Cindy Zabatsky.
Zabatsky and 46 other residents were forced out of Nanticoke Villa around 2 a. m. because of a fire inside a second floor apartment in the personal care home.
Authorities say the fire which started in an air conditioning unit was an accident.
"My throat was burning a little from the smoke, but other than that we're safe."
Cleanup crews say there's a lot of damage from smoke and water to mop up inside before residents can move back in.
Two residents went home with loved ones. The rest are at Greater Nanticoke Area High School waiting for answers.
The only issue bothering Gerri Prymowrcz is leaving school property to take a smoke break.
"You can't come out to smoke without permission. Oh, they drive you nuts, you know!"
The state department of public welfare says there are bigger issues.
According to the agency, it allowed Nanticoke Villa's license to expire in March. The personal care home is currently operating under appeal.
The agency says that during an inspection in March, it found violations for nighttime staffing, fire safety issues, and sanitary violations.
It also discovered five new cases of Hepatitis B at Nanticoke Villa and the state believes there were sanitary issues with blood sugar testing equipment for residents with diabetes.
Bryan Simpson says he just wants to go home but he's thankful for the volunteers who helped after the fire.
"We don't know where were going to be going at this point in time. Hopefully we'll be able to go back home soon."
The state department of public welfare says it's reviewing the application of a prospective buyer to take over Nanticoke Villa.